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Twitter Tuesdays: Lists

One of the questions I get most often about Twitter, especially from people who are trying to interact with Twitter for specific purposes, or who have gotten to the point where they’re following quite a large number of people, isย how do you keep up with it all?

It’s a good question. Twitter is a very fast-paced environment, and once you’re deep enough in, it’s hard to catch up after being away for even an hour. (And you HAVE to step away from Twitter for much longer than that if you’re still going to have a normal, healthy life.)

Also, if you’re a writer, or any other person building a platform, chances are you’ve followed LOTS of other writers (or people in your business), and this means that a lot of the time your stream can get pretty full of … um … marketing. It’s hard to wade through this to find the stuff you really want to see.

In previous posts, I’ve discussed using an app like TweetDeck, and how to use hashtags to make columns of searches for relevant things. If you missed these, and you want to see them, click on the nifty little “Techie Tuesdays” button at the top for a list. (Thanks Morgan Dragonwillow for pushing me to do that — you really can find AWESOME people on Twitter).

Now, let’s say you’ve figured out the hashtag thing, you’ve started keeping up with some group discussions, and you’ve actually found some great people on Twitter you enjoy talking to, and you want to keep up with THEM, and not lose them in your stream.

If it’s just one person — your favorite celebrity, or your old or new BFF, you can create a column in TweetDeck just for that person. You’re going to go to the top, and click the little gray + to add a column. Then the ‘search’ box pops up. Enter your friend’s user name, and voila — all of their tweets will pop up.

Usually, though, you have ย larger groups of awesome people. The group you like to write with in the evenings around six, the people you like to exchange raunchy jokes with at lunchtime, the people who always post interesting blogs about gardening, or technology in the classroom, or getting better at Twitter. Yes, for these people, there are LISTS! ๐Ÿ™‚

In Twitter, you can create as many lists as you like. You can create them on the Twitter website, or right inside TweetDeck.

In TweetDeck, you can create a list by, again, clicking the gray +. When the search box opens, you will see some options on the side. One of these says “Groups/Lists.” If you click on that, you can go to the top and click new list. Here, you can name the list, and write a description of it. “Lunchtime Buddies” “Word Warriors” “Awesome People” whatever. You can also decide whether you’d like the list to be public or private.

Once you’ve made the list, you can start adding people to it. In TweetDeck, adding people is easy. You hover over their profile picture, and you’ll see little buttons appear in place of the picture. Click on the little gear that says “other actions.” You’ll get a menu that will either let you do a number of things with the tweet, or with the person. One of the options under the “person” menu is “add to list.” Click it, and add them to a list.

Once you have a list set up, you can now make a column JUST FOR THAT LIST. It’s kind of like a hashtag column, only people don’t have to be using the hashtag to show up on it.

Your assignment this week? Create at least one list. Populate it with people you love to follow, and who don’t make you wade through sales pitches. Make a column in TweetDeck for your list, and sigh a happy sigh as you keep up with people you were starting to lose track of. ๐Ÿ™‚

As always, if I was confusing or if there’s something else you’d like to know, comment below! ๐Ÿ™‚

Special Request!

This Friday marks T-9 weeks until the release of Thorns of Decision! ๐Ÿ™‚ To celebrate, starting this week, each Friday I will host an “interview” here on the blog of one of the Dusk Gate characters. Always chomping at the bit to go first is Thomas. He will be answering your questions on Friday, in his own Thomas way. If you have a special question you’d like to ask him, please comment below, and then check back for the answer on Friday. ๐Ÿ™‚

Twitter Tuesdays #4 and Happy Valentine’s Day!

So — (shocker alert!) I’m a little late in getting my Twitter Tuesday post up this week. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s also Valentines Day, and I’ve been having lots of fun with the kiddos — we made valentines with lots and lots of stickers and sparkles and poofs! My dining room looks like a litter box for fairies.

Also, I’ve been writing, a lot. Thorns of Decision has grown by over 8,000 words since Saturday. The middle is usually the hardest and slowest part of writing for me, so this has been good news! ๐Ÿ™‚

But I did promise a post about a VERY IMPORTANT, and very misunderstood/underused topic on Twitter. The Almighty Hashtag! ๐Ÿ™‚

I know you’ve seen them. Hashtags are everywhere these days. Movies, books, businesses, they all end their posts with a little hashmark # and the name of whatever. (If you HAVEN’T seen it, they look like this #DuskGate or this #TwitterTuesday).

A hashtag is a way of categorizing things on Twitter, so you can find people who are talking about the same things you are. If you enjoy, for example, reading about the Twilight books, or news or whatever, you can go to Twitter and type #twilight in the search box. You’ll get a whole column of things related to Twilight. Some hashtags are far more prosperous and useful than others.

Hashtags are a constantly changing and fluid thing on Twitter. There is nothing actually formal about them, they are simply a way to search. People often use hashtags on Twitter that they’ve just made up #becauseIlikeinventinghashtags.

But, if you master the art of the hashtag, you will open up a whole new world for yourself on Twitter. Especially if you use a program that gives you columns (see last week’s post about the magical columns!)

If you are new to Twitter, you probably haven’t found all that many people to interact with (or you’ve found them, but they don’t seem to have heard you). Hashtags can change all of that. There are entire communities built up around certain hashtags.

For example, one of my favorite communities on Twitter is #wordmongering. I keep a whole column of TweetDeck dedicated to #wordmongering ALL THE TIME.

(If you’re a writer who needs motivation to be productive, by the way, the #wordmongering community is fan-freaking-tastic. They’re people who start writing at the top of each hour, write like mad for thirty minutes, and when they’re done, tweet their word counts back to #wordmongering and cheer each other on.)

Here’s the TweetDeck Tip! At the very top of your screen, right next to the yellow “post an update” button, is a “plus” sign. Click it, and it will create a new column, and a little search box will pop up. You can type a hashtag in that box, and then all of a sudden, you will have a whole column in TweetDeck dedicated to just following that hashtag. You can have as many columns as you’d like.

Now, whenever I include the #wordmongering hashtag in my tweets, everyone who follows #wordmongering will see it — whether they personally follow me (yet!) or not. Now you’re having the conversations that lead to meeting people on Twitter you’ll wish you’d known your whole life.

Try using some hashtags this week. Find a community that looks fun and start chatting in it. I promise you’ll love Twitter even more.

If you’ve read this far, I have some Valentine’s Day love for you. The first three people to comment and ask for it, can have their choice of a free e-copy of either Seeds of Discovery or Roots of Insight, your choice, in whatever digital format you prefer. ๐Ÿ™‚

Twitter Tuesdays #3 – TweetDeck

Happy Tuesday! Welcome to another installment of Twitter Tuesdays.

I was going to cover re-tweeting and direct messages today, but I decided to change my approach. I’m going to work around answering questions I got in the comments (since that’s who’s reading my blog, anyway!) ๐Ÿ™‚

The two questions I got were “How much time do you spend on Twitter to build a platform?” ย and “How do you keep track of everything/everyone?”

These questions can both be partially answered by the fact that I use an app to help me manage my twitter. (The answer to the second question, btw, is I don’t. It’s too much to keep up with ALL of it. I try to keep up with the things that I really care about, and then I focus on not stressing about it!).

The application I use is called TweetDeck, and it has definitely simplified Twitter for me. I do not yet use this app to its full potential, and I am always looking for ways to increase my knowledge and skill with it, but I will write the rest of my Twitter Tuesdays from the viewpoint of one who uses TweetDeck, because, well … I do. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tweet Deck is a free app, and you can download it from TweetDeck.com.

Once you’ve downloaded TweetDeck, log into the app with your Twitter name and password. Once it’s running, you’ll see the same thing you always did at the regular Twitter site, but now, you have columns!

The columns are one of the best parts about TweetDeck. Now, instead of trying to manage everything, and remember to click on the various parts of your stream, you can have everything right in front of you.

Once you’re logged into TweetDeck, you should have three columns by default. One column will be titled “All Friends,” and will show tweets from EVERYONE you follow. You will also have a column called “Mentions.” This one is important because it’s where tweets people are sending to you using the @ feature. Finally, you’ll have a column called “Direct Messages.” Direct messages are private messages that people can send to you. They are different than tweets sent with the @ feature, which are visible to everyone who follows either the person who sent it, OR the person who received it.

For the record – TWITTER IS NOT A PRIVATE PLACE. Be friendly, chat, have conversations. But DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT, tweet anything that you would be upset for anyone in the whole wide world to see. Don’t do it.

Sending Tweets:

You can send tweets from inside TweetDeck, just like you did before on the Twitter website. I use TweetDeck ALL THE TIME. I almost never actually log on to the website.

At the top of your TweetDeck screen, you will see a big, black box. Type tweets in it! ๐Ÿ™‚ If you don’t see the box, click the yellow flag at the top left of your screen. The box will appear.

Using the Columns:

Next week I will get into some more of the cool things you can do now that you have columns. ๐Ÿ™‚ But for today, I’ll stick with basics.

The columns alone help make it easier to manage and keep up with, especially if you’re still following less than about 500 people.

You can interact with folks directly by hovering over their profile pictures with your mouse. You have several choices once you do this.

  • Reply to – this will let you compose a tweet “in reply to” your friend. Basically, clicking this little arrow writes their @name for you in the top black box. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Direct Message – This will, again, bump you to the top black box, this time to compose a message that will be visible only to you and the person you’re sending it to.
  • Retweet. If one of your friends has just sent out a great tweet — it’s funny, or has a useful link, or it made you think, or WHATEVER, you can click this button and send the same message out to all of your followers. It’s like sharing the love! Use this button liberally, people like to be retweeted!
  • Other options. There are a LOT of other options under this button! ๐Ÿ™‚ The options you’ll use most, especially at first, are under the “User” category. Here you can “follow” or “unfollow” people, or click to view their profiles. In the case of spam, you can block the person and their tweets.

So, again, take this next week and play around with TweetDeck. See what you can discover for yourself, just by playing with it. Send me a tweet to @bputtroff if you have a question, and I’ll see if I can help you out.

Next week, I’m going to cover some of the other awesome things you can do now that you have columns, including the crazy Twitter phenomenon known as a #hashtag. They’re really awesome, I promise! ๐Ÿ™‚

Have something special you’d like me to cover in an upcoming Twitter Tuesdays? Post a comment below!